Final Project: African-American
HIS 206: United States History II
As a means to reduces racial violence and social unrest in the 20th-century, southern progressives promoted segregation amongst races. Very few Progressive reforms such as child labor laws and workers’ compensation, were extended to African-Americans. In fact, African-Americans developed their own leadership and institutions instead of relying on White reformers (Barnes & Bowles, 2015). In the United States, in the years after 1877, African-Americans and other groups of people struggled for rights during the Progressive era (Barnes & Bowles, 2015)
Of all the groups of people in America discriminated against in the years after 1877 to now, one could argue that African-Americans were the only group of people in American history to be racially discriminated against in a terroristic manner. However, because of the New Negro Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement African-Americans stood against racial discrimination (Barnes & Bowles, 2015). This paper argues that African-Americans fought through barriers of equality with movements such as the Black Exodus in 1879, the 1915 Guinn vs. the United States case, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and The Voter Rights Act of 1965 (Barnes & Bowles, 2015).
The Black Exodus
This paragraph argues African-Americans began migration to the north from the south, in 1879, to escape racial violence such as lynching and to find independence (Hartt, 1921). For the first time in history, African-Americans had taken their own affairs into their own hands by showing initiative. They had begun to fight back with great intentions and expectations against unjust violence and intimidation. African-Americans wanted independence, and lynching played a significant part in the struggle. Blacks were lynched, five at a time, on no stronger ground than suspicion. Their homes were burned to the ground, and entire sections were depopulated of them. However, with the promise of freedom from President Roosevelt, African-Americans were determined to act in the circumstances of White Americans, birthing the New Negro (Hartt, 1921). The Negro problem was not only a southern problem but a national problem with few laws protecting African-Americans from racial discrimination and violence (Hartt, 1921). The Black Exodus was not the only stand against racial discrimination African-Americans made because the1915 Guinn vs. the United States case is another stand African-Americans took to for voting rights.
Guinn vs. the United States
This paragraph argues that African-Americans were racially discriminated against with laws prohibiting them from exercising their rights. In 1915, the Guinn vs. United States case ruled unanimously that Texas had the right to discriminate against blacks during an election. Although he met all the qualifications such as being a citizen of the United States and a resident of the state and county, his ballot for a Democratic Party primary election was refused because he was of the Negro race. After reviewing the election laws of Texas, and their history, the court ruled that the Democratic Party in the state has the power to determine who can be eligible for membership, and, as such, eligible to participate in the election regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The decision ruled, in this case, was discrimination by the state of Texas excluding African-Americans on account of their race and color. The privilege of membership in a party and the right to vote for one who is to hold a public office seems to have been confused, and, therefore, violating the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Townsend, 1935). With the Fifteenth Amendment prohibiting discrimination based on race or color, this case is an example of how African-Americans still had to fight to break racial barriers supported by government officials (Townsend, 1935). The Guinn vs. the United States case was one of many struggles African-Americans faced for civil rights. Research shows that the Montgomery Bus Boycott was the start of social justice.
Montgomery Bus Boycott
This paragraph argues that African-Americans, with determination and great intention, effectively broke racial barriers supported by government officials. African-Americans, for years, were faced with fear on buses in their neighborhoods. They were inflicted with intimidation and humiliation and oppressed because of the color of their skin. It was only then, in 1955, when Rosa Parks, a black female bus rider was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white male, that any attention was given to the seating arrangement of public transit in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955, four days after her arrest, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Montgomery to deliver a speech on the social injustice. He spoke with legal authority without having legal authority. African-Americans, on that day, began the 381-day boycott of the Montgomery City Lines, Incorporated (King, 1955). This boycott showed that determination and motivation could change things. African-Americans, including Dr. King, donated their cars, money, and time to ensure that their resolutions of change on public transit is made law (King, 1955). The Montgomery Bus Boycott was not the only event that achieved integration because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 overcame racial barriers. African-Americans struggle for civil rights continued well after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and conclusively, today, African-Americans are continuing to develop leadership and institutions without the dependency of White Americans.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Before 1950, in New Bern, North Carolina, no black man or woman in the twentieth century had ever run for any elected office. Not even a black man with a Ph.D. degree could register for membership in local or national elections. In 1920, conservative whites in New Bern attempted to counteract the overturning of the North Carolina disfranchisement amendment by effectively using harassment, intimidation, and stringent literacy tests to exclude blacks from the polls. Despite the racial attacks, political barriers, over the following years started to fall as African-Americans started actively reversing their role as second-class citizens. Blacks refused to be ignored, overlooked, or barred from participating in the politics. Many of African-Americans in the civil rights movement, in New Bern, used their own resources and was not dependent on the presence of leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. African-Americans in New Bern claimed political power for themselves during the second half of the twentieth-century because of their own resources (Hawkins, 2008). In New Bern, the black struggle for political rights offered insight into how southern African-Americans capitalized on the Voting Right Act of 1965 (Hawkins, 2008). The African-American struggle for civil rights continued well after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and conclusively, today, African-Americans are continuing to develop leadership and institutions without the dependency of White Americans.
As shown in this paper, African-Americans in the United States, in the years after 1877, have continuously fought for their civil rights. Blacks had finally received some social justice due to movements such as the Black Exodus, the Guinn vs. United States case, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. During which, African-Americans received jobs granting them the independence they had long fought for. Blacks received voting rights enabling them to allow their voices to be heard and public transit became desegregated allowing African-Americans to sit in a seat without fear of discrimination. As I have said, African-Americans continuously fought for social justice. These few achievements amongst many, in so many ways, brought social justice to African-American men, women, and children in the United States. In conclusion, segregation amongst races appears to be outdated. However, African-Americans developing their own leadership and institutions will continue to gain momentum without the dependency of White Americans.
Barnes, L., & Bowles, M. (2015) The American Story: Perspectives and Encounters from 1877. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu
Hartt, R. L. (1921, Jan. 15). “The New Negro”: “When He’s Hit, He Hits Back!” Independent,76 (59-60) Retrieved from https://www.historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5127
Hawkins, K. M. (2008). Rising Phoenix-Like: The African American Struggle and Mobilization for Political Rights in New Bern, North Carolina, 1968-1979. North Carolina Historical Review, 85(4), 379-415 Retrieved from http://library.ashford.edu/
King, L., M. (1955, Dec. 1). Montgomery Bus Boycott. Digital History I.D 3625. Retrieved from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtid=3&psid=3625
Townsend, G. V. (1935, April 1) The Supreme Court Rule That Texas’s Democratic Party May Discriminate Against Blacks. Digital History I.D 3700. Retrieved from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=3700